4 Things Every Camp Nurse Aspirant Should Know

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Dear Counselor,

I have my LPN license but don't want to work full time. I was thinking about working as a camp nurse during the summer. What types of things do camp nurses do and can an LPN do them? I was hoping to find one where my kids could come too. Thank you. Gloria


Dear Gloria

One of the advantages of becoming a nurse is you often have flexibility about where and when you can work. Working during the summer as a camp nurse is something that many nurses enjoy doing and if you can bring your children with you, that's an added bonus.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can often find work as camp nurses, although there may be some special circumstances where RNs are required. While it may seem that camp nursing is very relaxed and casual, nurses who work in summer camps play an important and serious role in a camper's experience. The Association of Camp Nurses recognizes this importance and encourages camp nurses to join. By doing so, the nurses can take the opportunity to keep up-to-date on the latest research and educational opportunities.

1- Camp Accreditation

Camps do not have to be accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), but being accredited does have its advantages. ACA members must meet strict requirements anywhere from minimum salaries for counselors to insurance. If the camp isn't accredited, ask why.

2- Camp Nurse Job Description & Camp Health Policy

The camp director should supply you with an up-to-date job description that describes your role and their expectations.
- What are you responsible for?
- Who is your superior?
- What are the standards and policies of the camp?
- Are there other nurses?
- Who covers for you when you aren't there?

You will also need to know if and when there is a physician available and emergency procedures.

3- Camper Population

What type of children attend this camp? What age group are you going to be caring for? Are they healthy children who are just spending some time away at camp? Is it a specialized camp? Is it a camp for children who have chronic illnesses or disabilities? These answers will give you an idea of what type of work may be involved.

If the camp is one that involves contact sports, you may be looking at possible injuries, such as sprains or even fractures. If the camp is for children with diabetes, you will need to be sure of your diabetes knowledge. If it's a camp for children with potentially fatal illnesses, such as cancer, there may be a lot more than just physical care involved.

4- Living Arrangements, Salary, Benefits

In some camps, the nurse is in with the camper population, just as the counselors are. In other camps, the nurse is considered senior staff and lives separately from the campers. Some nurses have their own lodging, some sleep in the infirmary or medical area these are all issues that need to be discussed.

Salaries for camp nurses can vary considerably from camp to camp and from organization to organization. Time off is also quite variable. Some camps expect the nurse to be on duty and on call 24 days per week, 7 days per week. Other camps have relief nurses to help carry the load.

Finally, you will need to see if there are any arrangements that can be made for your children. Some camps will be more than happy to accommodate you, while others may not be as willing. Be sure to check this out and have it in writing to ensure any misunderstandings down the road.

Working as a camp nurse can be very rewarding for both the nurse and the campers who benefit from her care. If working as a nurse at a camp is something that interests you, there's no reason why you shouldn't look in to it. Good luck!

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